Elsa, Atlantic Season’s First Hurricane, Batters Caribbean

Elsa, Atlantic Season’s First Hurricane, Batters Caribbean

Elsa, Atlantic Season’s First Hurricane, Batters Caribbean

Elsa, Atlantic Season’s First Hurricane, Batters Caribbean

Elsa strengthened into the 2021 Atlantic season’s first hurricane on Friday, battering the eastern islands of the Caribbean.

As of 11 a.m. Eastern time, the center of the hurricane, with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, was passing near the islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm was moving west-northwest at 29 m.p.h.

A hurricane warning was in effect for St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. A hurricane watch, in which hurricane conditions are possible but are not expected, was in effect for parts of the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Other warnings and watches of varying severity were issued for other islands.

Rainfall of up to 15 inches, which could lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides, was forecast for parts of the Caribbean.

Elsa could also affect the Florida Keys and other parts of Florida early next week, the center said. The storm was being watched closely in South Florida, where it could potentially complicate rescue work at the site of the collapsed condominium building near Miami.

On Thursday, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Kevin Guthrie, said, “I want to assure you: The state will continue to support their local partners in the Surfside response.”

Mr. Guthrie said some of his top deputies would remain at the condo site even if he had to travel elsewhere in the state to respond to Elsa. He added: “We are accustomed to running three or more disasters at the same time.”

Elsa, the fifth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, formed as a tropical storm on Thursday.

Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making this the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the season on June 1.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect to experience stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms — though the overall number of storms may drop, because factors like stronger wind shear might keep weaker storms from forming.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic.

Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, causing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters.

It was the highest number of storms on record, surpassing the 28 storms in 2005, and included the second-highest number of hurricanes on record.

Johnny Diaz, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Daniel Victor, Chris Stanford and Isabella Grullón Paz contributed reporting.


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